State mandated MCT2 testing begins today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NATCHEZ — The door of classroom 17 at McLaurin Elementary is covered in tips for taking the MCT2.

“I want them to do their best,” Linda Patten, a fourth-grade reading teacher at the school, said. “These are all things that will help them on the test.”

Patten’s door is plastered with bright yellow paper and is filled with little sayings and acronyms all aimed at improving student performance.

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On other side of the door, students watched as Patten laid out the S.T.E.P.S. for taking the test.

Patten told students they need to sleep well the night before, take time to eat a nutritious breakfast, exercise their brains, put their skills to work and show they care by carefully marking each answer.

And most importantly, students must get to school on time, Patten said.

Students who arrive once the testing has started will not be allowed to enter the classroom and will have take a makeup exam.

“We cannot do anything to jeopardize the testing environment,” Patten said. “We need them here for 7:30 a.m.”

Natchez-Adams District Superintendent Anthony Morris said the exam, which starts today, is the most important test the district’s students will take all year.

And while Morris said he and his staff are “always a little anxious” on the first day of testing, McLaurin students say they’re ready.

Breanna Ramsey, 10, said she’s used to taking standardized tests and said she’s confident she’ll do well.

“I know I’ll pass,” Ramsey said.

And Ramsey isn’t just overly confident; she said she believes her classmates will do well also.

Ramsey and her fellow student, Jacqlaurence Jackson, 10, said they hear about and practice for the MCT2 for most of the school year.

“We talk about it a lot — a lot,” Lawrence said.

The state mandated MCT2 replaced the MCT in the 2007-2008 school year.

Grades third through eighth across the state are tested on reading, writing and math.

In an effort to bolster student performance, the MCT2 was made more difficult than the MCT.

In the first year of MCT2 testing, less than 50 percent of the district’s students scored proficient in the test’s categories.

Since the MCT2 was so different from the MCT, officials at the Mississippi Department of Education did not grade schools based on the first year’s scores.

Instead, those scores were categorized as base scores to grade this year’s scores against.

Morris said he feels the district’s students have an advantage this year.

“They’ve already taken the test, and they have a much better idea of what it’s going to be like,” he said. “That’s a definite advantage.”

Additionally, Morris said teachers this year have a better understanding of what’s on the exam and how to prepare students.

“I appreciate what they do,” Morris said of his administrators in the school. “They guide what the teachers do so the students can do better.”

Morris said he does not expect scores from the test to be back until September or October.

Once graded the scores will be applied to the state’s new ranking system developed for the MCT2.

Testing starts today and continues through Thursday.

Students who perform poorly on the test are placed in a state mandated remediation program.